Celebrating National Pet Month: 8 Things Our Pets Do for our Health

by Dr. Shelby
May is National Pet Month, the month dedicated to the celebration of your pet’s contributions to you and yours to your pet.  I would like to focus on some of the wonderful things pets do for people, specifically for our health.
1. When you take your dog with you on outings, you automatically become a social magnet.  Everyone wants to admire your dog, pet your dog, and ask your questions about your pet. Going to the dog park or simply taking your pet for a walk will draw attention to you. The same goes for online communities.  When you are on Facebook, Twitter, or any of your other favorite social media sites, talk about your dog or cat.  You will capture the attention of potential friends all over the world.  
2. It has been shown that pets improve our mood.  Pet parents are known for being happier, more trusting, and less lonely.  Our pets add more meaning to our lives and a sense of belonging.  
3. Research studies have revealed that pets have added health benefits for children, also. Your child could indeed have a stronger immune system, particularly if they are around pets before 6 months of age.  They have fewer colds and ear infections in the first year of life and tend to have fewer allergies. 
4. It is well known how supportive pets can be for emotional/mental and health conditions like blindness, but did you know they are also used for other chronic conditions such as diabetes, seizures, fainting, and autism? Many post trauma victims such as veterans and kidnapping survivors have also been greatly helped by pets of all types.  
5. Dogs have even helped children learn to read!  For many, learning to read is difficult, but becomes fun when the children think they are teaching a dog to read when, in fact, they are teaching themselves.  It removes any pressure or embarrassment the child has and makes the task downright enjoyable. 
6. Living with a pet can decrease stress.  Hormones are actually released that lead to relaxation and a decrease in a stress hormone
7. Dogs, in particular, can have a significant effect on your weight.  Obesity is a serious problem facing millions of people around the world, as well as animals.  If you take your dog on a walk every day, your kindness to your dog leads to more calories burned and a loss in unhealthy pounds for both of you. 
8. Several of these gifts from our pet add up to fighting a major health problem facing many people and that is heart disease. By lowering blood pressure, heart rate, reducing weight, and decreasing stress, those who live with pets have been shown repeatedly to have healthier hearts.  
So you see, our pets aren’t just a source of amusement and companionship.  They can actually help us live longer, happier lives. During May and every other day of the year, celebrate the incredible contribution pets make to our lives and be sure to give back abundantly!